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Non-League club host first ever football match with no heading allowed

Spennymoor Town will host a charity game which will see two sides take on each other with one key difference – there will be a distinct lack of headers

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‘Something needs to change’ – Wayne Rooney speaks on football’s dementia issue

A non-league club are to host the first adult game to take place without heading allowed this weekend.

Spennymoor Town, who ply their trade in the National League North, are hosting the special match on Sunday, September 26.

The game will see a team from charity Head for Change take on a side representing the Solan Connor Fawcett Trust. It will involve a host of former professionals and aims to show how 11-a-side football can run smoothly with heading restrictions.

Recent research from Glasgow University suggested that footballers are up to five times more likely to suffer from dementia than the general population, due to the vast amount of heading of footballs in games and on a daily basis in training.

Studies have found heading of leather balls to be a contributing factor in the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in a clutch of former players. It was also found to have contributed to the death of former West Brom striker Jeff Astle, who passed away in 2002.



Jeff Astle, the former West Bromwich Albion player, died in 2002 with injuries said to be caused by repeatedly heading leather footballs




Organisers for Sunday’s game say it will help form an “ongoing conversation about the safety of players.”

The match will only allow headers in the penalty box for the first half and then restrict all heading of any kind during the second half.

Teams on the day will be made up of former players who have connections with Middlesbrough FC, while a mixture of Spennymoor and former professionals and semi-professional players will also be on show.

The pilot concept has won plenty of admirers and backers.







One of them is Sky Sports News presenter Hayley McQueen. Her father Gordon, the former Manchester United and Leeds defender, was recently diagnosed with dementia.

Like many players from a similar era, the 69-year-old played at a time when footballs were much heavier and the potential risks were unknown.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the charity game, she said: “It’s going to be weird.







“My dad doesn’t want to see it eradicated from football altogether but he has said that massive changes need to happen.

“It’s great to see that we’ve now got players from the past playing in a game that might well be what the future looks like.

“But I definitely think there has to be a limit (on heading) in training.



Gordon McQueen, right, was recently diagnosed with dementia




“Football is evolving and changes all the time, so why not make a change that’s going to protect people in the future from having brain injuries?

“It’s a no-brainer.”

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